View Full Version : My new mandolin - BRW!

Feb-19-2009, 1:02am
Rather than hijack another thread where our intrepid Antarctic explorer asked about my new avatar I've done the correct thing and am posting the obligatory "My new mandolin" thread. Many of you know that in the last couple years I've owned some monster mandolins. The highlights include; Ellis #100, 2 killer MM's, Giacomel J5, Wood varnish F5, Duff varnish F5, TOB, Mix A5, BigSky and several assorted Collings, Gibsons and a wonderful BRW F5. Well my mandolin crazy train finally pulled into reality station and I don't require a 10k plus instrument nor has the ride been kind to my finances.

I've been looking to sell my J5 recently and decided to consign it with Greg Boyd after striking out myself. Sending the J5 to Boyd's would leave me with only my trusty Kentucky KM172, a fine mandolin but quite a step down from my recent company. My plan was to sell the J5 and get a top flight A5 but with the consignment wrinkle I'd still be vested in the Giacomel and not in much of a position to get a new top tier instrument.

One of the mandolins that stood out on my journey was BRW #76, a great looking and sounding, blackface F5. Well, two weeks ago I noticed a few BRW's coming up in the classifieds so I hatched a plan to get one and send the Giacomel off. I got an A5 #67 that Chris Stanley got in trade. It was a very, very good deal. It came last week on my 38th birthday, purely be chance but a cool gift for sure!

This is a wonderful mandolin, loud, poppy, full sounding, great fwoomp chop and sweet up the neck. It has all the qualities I remembered from #76. As far as build goes Ben's work is outstanding, super clean, nice woods, great detail. Without hesitation I think BRW is seriously under rated and doesn't get the attention deserved here. Bottom line on the mando, an absolute steal. So here's the pics of my new love that didn't require a Federal bailout to procure.

Rob Powell
Feb-19-2009, 2:55am
Very nice lookin' mando pj!

With that list though, I gotta wonder what her fate is ;) Besides, the economy needs you! :grin:

Feb-19-2009, 7:04am
Congrats, PJ. It's a beautiful mando. It's good that your "mandolin crazy train" is at a rest stop. You've been on a wild but wonderful ride. Enjoy your new mando and belated happy 38th birthday!

Skip Kelley
Feb-19-2009, 7:26am
Sweet!! Ben builds a fine mandolin! That is one awesome sunburst! Congratulations! There is nothing quite like having a mandolin that you can hardly wait to pick up and play! :)

Chris Biorkman
Feb-19-2009, 7:36am
Cool. Looks really clean. I bet she sounds great too.

Danny Clark
Feb-19-2009, 8:35am
Hey PJ
That looks just like the one Ben built for me,#86 mine has some old Engleman for the top,Varnish finish,i have found myself playing it more than anything else lately,great builder,clean and great sound to me sort of a Nugget feel and sound.

Kevin Briggs
Feb-19-2009, 9:18am
I love those things. If I had the means, I'd have one of his A styles right now. Ben's the man.

Feb-19-2009, 9:31am
Nice, PJ. That looks like the acme of sensibility, style, and (I bet) tone. Congrats and enjoy it.


Barb Friedland
Feb-19-2009, 9:33am
Ben does build a fine mandolin. Enjoy it!

Feb-19-2009, 9:35am
Ben makes a great looking and sounding mando. The few I've played have all been very nice. Congrats on beating MAS into remission! :grin:

Feb-19-2009, 9:41am
Mine was the next in line, FT-MS #68, and I love it. Enjoy yours!!

Ken Olmstead
Feb-19-2009, 10:46am
I played one of his earlier ones and it sounded amazingly like my Yellowstone I used to have. Looked fabulous. Yours is a beaut PJ! The flowerpot is the nicest one made today! I hope it works for you. Too bad about the Giacomel, I was enjoying living vicariously through you on that one! :))

Feb-19-2009, 11:26am
Congratulations, thanks for the picture and letting us know how it sounds.

Feb-19-2009, 11:49am
Thanks all. You know if Danny Clark likes them they're very good, he makes me look like an amateur. I actually would have liked to get the one you have Danny, but this was a silly deal. It has an Englemann top too which I think is Ben's strong suit. Ken you could always have Greg send you the J5 for a few days and return it ;) Rob the economy needs me to focus on my business and not too over spend so I can contribute for years to come but I do tend to catch and release. Although I think I'll be good for a while.

Feb-19-2009, 12:07pm
I agree, that flowerpot is the most beautiful I've seen. I usually don't fancy flowerpots, but this one, just gorgeous!

Scotti Adams
Feb-19-2009, 12:07pm
Ben does make a fine looking mando. Congrats

Bill Van Liere
Feb-19-2009, 12:22pm
Welcome back to the fold PJ.

I did some home recording with BRW 51 last night and was quite pleased; the usuall clean smooth BRW tone. We did the Bluegrass band around the one mic thing and I was instructed to stand further away from the mic than the banjo during the chops. After three years of playing the sound continues to fill in on the bottom. BRW 51: varnish on red spruce/red maple.

Danny-that BRW sound clip on your website sounds great.

Feb-19-2009, 12:45pm
That is nothing but pure class, PJ!! Seriously nice.

What does it have engraved on the truss rod cover?

Feb-19-2009, 12:51pm
Thanks Bill, I'm glad to be back. When I got it it had not been under tension for who knows how long and the strings looked like you could get tetnus from them and it still sounded quite good. Oddly enough the fine gentlman who bought Ellis 100 stopped in just as I finished restringing it, he was on a business trip from TN and brought along my old mandolin. So I got the hear the BRW out front, even freshly strung the BRW had good hit, I looked up quickly as he started playing, surprised by the power. Compared to the Ellis it had a bassier tone and not quite as hollow sounding but very favorable considering the price difference. It has definitely gotten better as it's settled in from the string change. The g string just needs to loosen up a bit and it will, I have a strong attack from years of playing bass so I'll get that last bit from her.

Feb-19-2009, 12:53pm
Oh, the cover just has the BRW logo engraved, it looks great. Those are Chris' pictures so maybe I'll shoot my own to show off more detail.

Feb-20-2009, 8:52am
I agree, that flowerpot is the most beautiful I've seen. I usually don't fancy flowerpots, but this one, just gorgeous!

Actually, this is what Ben calls his torch inlay. I'm quite impressed with this design as well. Makes the traditional flowerpot look pretty basic.

Jim Nollman
Feb-27-2009, 12:42pm
Couldn't resist resurrecting this older thread. I just bought a BRW 3-point from recording artist Mark Levesque. Not only did i get to drool over some great pics before buying, but i also got to actually hear and see Mark playing the instrument via Youtube. Mark and i seem to agree that this BRW oval hole has one of the best-defined low ends of any mandolin either one of us has ever had the honor to play. Like mark, i will start to use it primarily for recording of jazz and a hybrid of fiddle tunes and techno that i am now exploring.

I thank all the people who weighed into a thread I started two months ago, trying to answer the musical question of why anyone really needs to spend so much money on a hand-built instrument. That thread turned heated, and was consequently shut down, but i had already learned much from several builders, about why they think their instruments are special. They convinced me. The result:: rather than selling my Eastman 515, for a 815, I started saving pennies, selling lots of extra artwork, and also reading the Cafe classified twice a day. It all came together last week.

This is one great mandolin, and i am one happy player. If you want to hear and see it, go to Youtube and do a search on Mark Levesque

Feb-27-2009, 12:48pm
That is a very sweet 3 point. Congrats!

Barb Friedland
Feb-27-2009, 12:53pm
Couldn't resist resurrecting this older thread. I just bought a BRW 3-point from recording artist Mark Levesque.

I was drooling over that one as well. She is a beauty and will be wonderful for jazz. I can just imagine how she will sound with JazzMando JM-11 flatwounds installed... :whistling: Enjoy!

Jim Nollman
Feb-27-2009, 1:00pm
Interesting that should mention the jazzmando strings. I bought a set last week for this particular mandolin. Mark had put a new set of J-74s on it just before shipping, so I'll wait 5 or 6 weeks before restringing. They sound great, as I imagine any other string set will also sound great, and maybe just a little different in tone.

Ivan Kelsall
Feb-28-2009, 6:33am
I'm with you guys on all you say re.that Mandolin - it's stunning,especially the headstock shape/inlay,very beautiful,
Saska ;)

Mar-01-2009, 1:18am
I got to play one of those, maybe that one and it was outstanding, congrats.
I'm glad you brought this thread back up because I mentioned that I got to hear my new BRW with my old Ellis and reading it back it may have seemed that I preferred the BRW. That wasn't the case, they're both excellent but different. The Ellis is as good as a mandolin can be but I'm very happy with the BRW and for the money it's almost too good to be true.

Salty Dog
Mar-03-2009, 9:20pm
I'll cast my two votes for Ben's Englemann tops. Englemann may be a little slower in opening up but I really prefer the Englemann tone.

Jim Nollman
Mar-04-2009, 11:28am
I believe mine is European spruce. I have no idea what it's qualities are versus other spruce, but it sure sounds rich.

Mar-04-2009, 11:41am
Could you post a link to the YouTube videos of the 3 point oval hole? I searched but couldn't find it.

Mar-04-2009, 10:46pm
Ben W. makes the classiest headstocks in the biz, IMO. What a beaut.

Jim Nollman
Mar-05-2009, 11:37am

I couldn't fin it either. I'll ask the source. Or did i merely dream it?

Mark Walker
Mar-05-2009, 12:02pm
PJ - fine looking mandolin! I got to play Bill Van Liere's BRW last fall at a festival, and it's a smooth-playing, sweet-sounding instrument!

I know you've had a pile of great instruments pass through your train station; glad you've got this one pausing for a 'layover' for a bit! :)


Mar-06-2009, 4:01pm
Nice PJ! As the most recent owner of #67, I'm psyched to hear that it wound up in the hands of someone who appreciates what a great mando it is. I worked out a trade with Chris Stanley, and am now the extremely happy owner of one of his A5s...a really killer instrument, but there's sure nothing wrong with that BRW. Enjoy!

Mar-06-2009, 4:12pm
Those BRW's are nice ... strike that! Awesome!